Let’s Hear It For Editorial Cartoonists!

I am always astounded by the reaction from some readers to editorial cartoons that are placed in the daily newspapers. The fact that those drawings create a reaction proves the power and potency of their creative force.

From the start of our history, such opinion drawings in publications have helped to further a needed dialogue on the topics of the day.  Phil Hands, is the editorial cartoonist for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wisconsin and doubtless many of you have seen his work. The cartoon below is one I had to go back and search for as a response to those who question why editorial cartoons are so pointed in regards to Trump.

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Readers to my little place here on the internet highway know I very much enjoy a pithy and well-drawn political cartoon–of the type which arrive each morning on the Op-Ed pages of many papers around the nation.   The role of these forms of information and emotional prodding is something Americans have relied on to help frame the issues of the day.

What disturbs me about the blowback, at times, against editorial cartoonists is the timid newspaper owners and publishers caving to the worst instincts from readers.   I was dismayed when the international edition of The New York Times fell in line with the domestic edition and eliminated all such editorial cartoons.

If someone is offended by a political cartoon it seems time to yank the work of that cartoonist.  Conservative and Trump-supporting newspapers have dropped cartoonists because there was a sharp edge created about the current occupant of the White House. When fragile-minded readers contact newspapers we know what follows.  Corporate bean-counters sweat and whimper and soon the cartoonist is dropped because it is argued, editorial cartoons aren’t seen as bringing in income.  (Having a penchant for reading local newspapers as I travel about, it is a concern of mine that  many small papers do not even have an editorial page.)

The reason these cartoons matter is that they are vital to our culture as they stir the national conversation about topics and personalities that are at times gritty and hard to stomach.  Visual metaphors are important as they often convey a truth that can not be easily summed up in an analysis news article or even a long editorial.

I grew up with Herblock (Herbert Block) as he made Richard Nixon look criminal and Ronald Reagan look out of touch with day-to-day governing.  In each case, news stories underscored such editorial cartoons were correct.  Cartoonists, in another fashion, just had their own way of presenting the news.

Some will look at political cartoons and see nothing but another layer of tension being added to the issues of the day.  The other way to respond is to note such cartoons allow for difficult issues to be more easily discussed.  I am sure, for some readers, cartoons lure them into reading more to further refine their knowledge about the news stories of the day.

There is nothing wrong with editorial cartoons courting controversy.  That is a very real role for newspapers to participate in and plays hand-in-hand with what democracy should look and feel like when opening a newspaper.

Editorial cartoons are an important part of journalism. We must not let editorial cartoons disappear!  Our democracy counts on it.

 

Trump Proves He Is Not ‘The Business Man’ He Promised To Be In ’16 Election

This story in The New York Times condensed a lot of the hype that Donald Trump wanted the nation to believe in 2016, with the rude facts of his lack of abilities as the nation now confronts a pandemic.  What we have watched occur over the past weeks has allowed all to see the empty suit that is Donald Trump.

When President Trump came to office, he promised a new day with America’s manufacturers, casting himself as the first president who understood their needs. He toured factory floors, often handing out his signature “Make America Great Again” hats.

Yet in the first national crisis that required harnessing American manufacturing ingenuity and ramping up production of ventilators, perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment for patients in crisis, the White House’s ability to gather the power of American industry crumpled.

It was unable to communicate how many ventilators it would need or how quickly it would need them. Mr. Trump set states off on a mad scramble to find their own, leading to bidding wars against one another. Even today it is unclear who is deciding where the new American production will be directed — to the highest bidders or to the cities that need them most.

A week after praising General Motors and a small ventilator manufacturer, Ventec Life Systems, for their voluntary efforts to combine cutting-edge technology with G.M.’s expertise at supply chains and mass production, the president blew up at the largest carmaker in America, accusing its chief executive, Mary T. Barra, of moving too slowly and trying to “rip off” the federal government. In fact, G.M. and Ventec had already signed a partnership — without government help — to ramp up production.

Interviews with White House officials, industry executives and outsiders who tried to intervene make two problems clear. Mr. Trump’s first mistake was recognizing the problem far too late, even though his own medical experts had identified a probable shortage of ventilators as a critical problem in late January, as panic set in that the virus was headed to the United States. Had the president acted sooner, thousands of new ventilators would probably be coming off production lines next month, when they are likely to be desperately needed.

And even after the problem was recognized, and the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, took over the process, both the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency struggled to define what was needed, who would pay for it and how to solve the problem of supply chains that stretched across more than a dozen countries.